Death is just the beginning: Black Hearts by Doug Johnstone #blogtour #excerpt #BlackHearts #theSkelfs #RandomThingsTours

Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where it is my absolute pleasure to share with you an excerpt from Black Hearts! Check out my review here if you missed it the first time around, but the long and short of it is that Black Hearts is another fantastic addition to an amazing series and one you definitely don’t want to miss.

Many thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour, and to Orenda Books for the excerpt.

Let’s have a quick look at the blurb first:

The Skelf women live in the shadow of death every day, running the family funeral directors and private investigator business in Edinburgh. But now their own grief intertwines with that of their clients, as they are left reeling by shocking past events.
A fist-fight by an open grave leads Dorothy to investigate the possibility of a faked death, while a young woman’s obsession with Hannah threatens her relationship with Indy and puts them both in mortal danger. An elderly man claims he’s being abused by the ghost of his late wife, while ghosts of another kind come back to haunt Jenny from the grave … pushing her to breaking point.
As the Skelfs struggle with increasingly unnerving cases and chilling danger lurks close to home, it becomes clear that grief, in all its forms, can be deadly…

Right! Let’s go see what the Skelf women are up to, shall we?

‘So that’s been my morning,’ Jenny laughed. ‘Punched a guy for saving my life. What about you, cured any psychos?’ 

She tilted her head and smiled at Brandon. His office was just big enough for a desk in one corner, a therapy area in the other, two low chairs facing each other. The chairs were uncomfortable and Jenny heaved herself out and walked around. Nervous energy coursed through her every time she came here.

Brandon King was attached to the university’s psychology department. He wasn’t a qualified psychotherapist yet, which meant he was dirt cheap. His wee office in the new building at the bottom of Chalmers Street was a stone’s throw from where Hannah used to attend counselling sessions. Hannah had apparently come to terms with her dad’s psychotic behaviour and eventual death. She had Indy for support, a new marriage to a loving wife, two beautiful young things bouncing back from everything life threw at them. Jenny didn’t feel like she would ever bounce back from this. 

She stared out of the window. The leaves were turning in the Meadows and over on Bruntsfield Links. She could just see their house, three storeys of Gothic Victorian melodrama overlooking the Links from Greenhill Gardens. Funeral directors and private investigators, it was a wonder she hadn’t been to therapy before now. And she didn’t even believe in therapy. Talking about your feelings was stupid. She’d come here under duress but found Brandon cute and amiable, a daft puppy. 

She turned back to him. He still hadn’t spoken, classic therapist schtick. He was tall and goofy, a mop of curly black hair, in a plaid shirt and jeans, Converse. He was early thirties, not quite young enough to be her son but not far off. 

He stuck his chin out eventually. ‘So how did that make you feel?’ 

Jenny rolled her eyes and tutted at the cliché. ‘Fucking great. I’ll be lucky if he doesn’t sue.’ 

Brandon nodded. ‘Are you sure swimming in the Forth is a good idea?’ 

He was a hundred-percent right. But imagine a crazy coincidence, if, one time, she found Craig’s disintegrating corpse bobbing on the surface, fish nibbling his toes, sucking out his eyeballs, chewing on his rectum. How fucking sweet would that be? 

‘It’s good exercise,’ she said. Brandon frowned. She found his disapproval hilarious. He knew exactly what she was like yet still managed to be disappointed in her. 

‘What about the meditation exercises we talked about?’ 

She went cross-eyed and stuck her thumbs up. ‘Just great. Fantastic.’ 

She was trying to get a rise out of him, part of the playful back and forth. 

He shrugged and smiled. It was a cute smile. ‘You’re paying for these sessions, Jenny. If you don’t think they’re useful…’ 

This was part of it too, he pretended he didn’t care but he was too nice not to. 

‘OK.’ Jenny put her hands up as if he was pointing a gun. She remembered Craig doing exactly that on Elie beach, lighthouse flashing behind him, the shush of the waves in her ears. 

She felt suddenly tired, crashing after the adrenaline from the thing in the sea earlier. 

Her phone pinged in her bag, and she went to her chair and took it out. A message from Mum. She read it and lifted her bag from the back of the chair, threw it over her shoulder and stuffed the phone back in. 

‘Sorry, big guy, I have to pick up a body. You can cure me next time.

Read for more? Black Hearts is out on 29 September in paperback and digital formats. Preorder directly from Orenda Books here.

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